Warsaw, October 12, 2004. Today, at a press conference organized jointly by the Polish Ministry of Education, the European Investment Bank and the World Bank Office in Poland a report titled Tertiary Education in Poland was released to the public. The report was a joint effort of the World Bank and the European Investment Bank in consultation with the Ministry of National Education and Sport of Poland.

The press conference was opened by the Minister of Education, Mr. Sawicki, who described the major purpose of the report which is to discuss important outstanding issues in the provision of Polish tertiary education and to focus on policies to improve the quality and accessibility of educational services.

The report states that, although much has been accomplished since the early 1990s to orient the Polish tertiary education system to the human capital needs of a competitive open economy, much still remains to be done to make Poland's higher education system more responsive to the needs of a globally competitive knowledge economy and to the changing labor market requirements for advanced human capital.

The authors of the report discuss the complexities attendant upon the modernization and reform of tertiary education so that the system can respond equitably and efficiently to the changing needs of individuals and the economy. The report concludes that the Polish government, the Parliament, the academic community and Polish society at large are faced with a number of important challenges in trying to balance conflicting objectives.

For example, the report discusses the need to safeguard the autonomy and integrity of universities while, at the same time, addressing the need to make institutions more accountable both to Government and to stakeholders in the world of work. The degree to which budgets should be allocated to institutions using standard finance algorithms, versus implementing a money following the student or voucher approach, is also a difficult unresolved issue. A third important tradeoff facing Polish decision makers, involves the orientation and implementation of accreditation procedures, where a fine balance must be struck between the licensing of institutions on the one hand, and the measurement, assessment and evaluation of quality standards on the other. In sum, while the tertiary education sector in Poland has already undergone remarkable and highly impressive growth and change over the past 15 years, the reform process is still far from complete.

The report recommends that the policy-making role of MoNES should be strengthened, in order to lead the debate on education reform in general, and on the development of tertiary education in particular. In order to build on progress to date and move further towards a world class tertiary education system, the report proposes a series of policy options under the headings of: (i) financing a system of mass tertiary education in a transparent and equitable way; (ii) improving the quality of educational services; (iii) improving the responsiveness and linkages of the system both to the labor market and to the innovation and technology needs of a modern knowledge based economy; and (iv) orientating tertiary education to a lifelong learning system.

The Report is the first joint sector study by the EIB and the WB. It represents a good example of the two Banks working together to contribute to a country's development.